Planning going on for CTE center

To figure out what the new Career and Technical Education Center financed by the Nov. 7 bond is going to look like, Ector County ISD has formed a Career Technical Education Center Advisory Committee.

It features 27 representatives from across the community from workforce and chamber of commerce officials to Odessa College, the Permian Strategic Partnership and individual stakeholders.

As they move into the design process, they will have subcommittees focusing on specific programs, Executive Director of CTE Ryan Merritt said.

As for what’s going into the building, that took up the first two advisory committee meetings. They looked at regional labor market information for the Permian Basin.

“We looked at targeted occupations that are on the list from the workforce board. Then we looked at other programs that may not be on the targeted list, but there’s local labor market information or local wisdom that tell us that we need to offer the program for the good of the workforce. That was kind of the first two meetings where we looked at labor market to finalize our list that we’re recommending to move forward with for programs to go into the building,” Merritt said.

There will be professions that aren’t even known right now that the district is going to need.

“That’s why when we design the building, we do want to design it in a way that there’s flexible lab space for those changes that are likely to occur in the future,” Merritt said.

Some takeaways from the recommended list are auto collision, which is currently at the Frost Building, so if they don’t move it they will more than likely lose it.

“So it was definitely one that was on the list that we talked about in detail. It’s on the targeted occupations list,” Merritt said.

“Then with some of the local industry, some of the information that we’ve had from them is that it’s good wages, in demand. If you talk to people that have tried to get their car repaired recently, there’s a long waiting list and a long time period before you can get your car fixed,” he added.

ECISD is the sole provider of auto collision education, he said.

Welding is another program that will be included in the new facility.

“The advisory committee did identify machining is a closely related program area to welding, and it’s one again that the college doesn’t provide, but we’re looking to to at least provide opportunities for students to take a course or two in machining,” Merritt said.

Machining is designing parts that go into different industries, he said.

Oil and gas “really needs machinists to develop parts that they need to go into their work.”

One of the companies ECISD partners with, Drilling Tools International, has talked to the district about their need for machinists.

“I guess the college had the program in the past, but no longer has it and so we’re wanting to at least address that need with our new building,” Merritt said.

Energy, a new oil and gas program of study that started in January at the Frost Building, will be part of the new CTE center.

“We’re looking to add automation. And so, again, a lot of these conversations are not only with the advisory committee, but with Odessa College and speaking with them about programs where they have capacity issues, and attempting to create a space that we can use but the college could also use if needed to provide that education in automation,” Merritt added.

In the construction trades, the possibility of rotating carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing and pipe fitting is being considered.

They are working closely with Odessa College on that.

Culinary arts and health sciences also have been recommended.

“From there, we looked at the Catalyst Report that the PSP paid for and had developed a couple of years ago that looked at occupations in the region related to oil and gas that are in demand and high wage. We are looking to add a program of study in data analytics that will include GIS and supply chain through the lens of the oil and gas industry,” Merritt said.

“That’s something that we don’t currently offer, but we’ve we’ve seen it in the local labor market. Odessa College is very interested in that as well because there are other community colleges that offer associate degrees in that area. We’re looking at adding a space to offer that program of study and then hopefully align that with a post- secondary opportunity in the future. That space, we kind of envision that being more of like computer lab space,” he added.

“We may have a smaller lab area for the supply chain and logistics portion of the course, but our advisory committee was pretty excited about that — identifying an area that we currently don’t offer, but adding that into the new building,” he said.

Also Future Teachers of Odessa, ECISD’s education and training program, will move to the new building, along with audio video production, fashion design and marketing and sales round out the recommendations.

“One thing that we’re still waiting to hear about is the donation from the Permian Strategic Partnership that was offered. We have created a subgroup to focus on energy and what an energy wing could look like in the building. The idea is to identify some programs that would go into this energy wing, and then give that information back to the PSP with a cost estimate of what it would cost to build this, that part of the building,” Merritt said.

“We’ve met with them a couple of times with some of their their company representatives. So far they really liked the idea that we have about putting the oil and gas production, automation, machining, welding and construction trades, along with data analytics into one wing in the building …,” Merritt said.

PBK was selected as the architect for the new $80 million CTE center. That includes things such as construction, furniture and equipment.

PBK has designed more than 30 CTE centers in Texas.

“They have a lot of experience in this space, so we’re definitely going to design a custom building, but try to take advantage of their their knowledge and experience and (to) help guide us to design a great building,” Merritt said.

The committee recently visited a CTE center in Abilene, known as the LIFT Center.

LIFT stands for Leadership & Innovation in Future Technologies.

“It’s a great building. I think this is their third year to have the building open. It’s a good model for us to follow. We have a lot more students than they do, so it’s something that we’re looking at as we look at the different facilities, like the one Hobbs. Those are good examples for us to look at, but we’re three times bigger than Hobbs and twice as big as Abilene. Thinking about the space that they have and the space that we’re going to need is something we’re working through right now,” he said.

The ECISD facility would be home for 400 high school students with 2,000 students being transported there throughout the day.

“The plan is to continue like we do now where every two periods we bus students to a location. It’s a double-block period,” Merritt said.

The goal is to make the building large enough to provide enough room for everybody so the district doesn’t have to turn kids away.

“That’s the goal. That’s definitely the goal. We’ve done a good job with staffing and setting up additional lab spaces over the last several years. There are some areas that are pretty tight and full and we’re looking to address that with a new building. We’re trying to plan for space while balancing the the budget that we have for the project,” Merritt said.

He added that it will be a joint-use facility with Odessa College.

“But really it’s a community center to where we see companies coming in for career placement events, and really connected industry with education in Odessa. … We’re hoping to make new partners with our neighbors when we move in,” or before they move in, Merritt said.